Interview Preparation

There is nothing more important to having a great interview than doing proper interview preparation. No matter what kind of interview it is, it can always seem daunting. We want to provide this information to you for free because you should have the best interview possible. If you read this section in order, you will finish with a strong understanding of how the interview process will proceed.

Job Description Preparation

The easiest and best way to prepare for any interview is to align your skills with the job description. To further clarify, look at the example below. (Job qualification in red, your skill in blue).

  • Talent Management and Acquisition Specialist
    • Performs data collection and evaluation of talent pipeline metrics
    • Experience with running and evaluating the following reports: Time-to-fill, cost-to-fill and interviews-to-hire.
    • Documents evaluation processes and enhances data collection
    • At prior company, implemented new software (XYZ123) which reduced data collection time and increased accuracy of reporting.
    • Support talent reviews, development planning and critical role analyses
    • Experienced with leading employee evaluations and created individual development plans. Also, worked with global HR to analyze critical roles by overall necessity to company.

  • Desktop Support

    • Troubleshoot and resolve issues with Windows 7 operating system, Microsoft Office applications
    • Provided Tier 1 and 2 level support to Windows and Mac operating systems, including MS office. Examples are be password resets, OS crashing on local machine, and “if statement” excel formatting changes.
    • Process all new hire/change hardware and information for local offices
    • Experienced with iTicket (ticketing software) for processing all hardware and software requests. Managed all inventory logs for hardware to ensure 100% accuracy. Implemented new best practices which increased new hire downtime (in regards to being setup with PC).
    • Excellent customer support with laptop/PC, windows/Mac, all smart phones and live issues
    • In the past year, personally serviced over 1,000 tickets from employees. Received a 98% positive response rating. Handled local offices as well as remote offices via phone, email, Skype and in-person.

As we can see from the above examples, we took sample job descriptions and inserted “your” talents. Do the same for yourself.

Why is this an important exercise? Any type of interview can be daunting, but with the proper preparation, you can easily conquer it. Here is an example of how you can use this preparation. Lets say you have a phone interview tomorrow that you are really nervous about. Using this preparation method will not only ease your nerves, it will help you answer the questions asked. Most questions that an interviewer asks will be qualifying questions; meaning they want to know if you are qualified to do this job and worthy enough to bring in for an in-person interview. Since we know that, completing this preparation guide will allow you to easily answer the questions. Think of it as taking a test in school with the answers right next to you!

Company and Interview research

Researching the company you are interviewing with is critical in the interview preparation process. Any interview you go on, there will be some type of questions asked in regards to the company. This is your opportunity to shine. It shows your passion for working with this company, but also wanting to be in that particular industry. With unemployment so high and the addition of regular yearly turnover, there are a lot of people seeking new job and careers. Some of them will be much more qualified than you and that is okay! What companies look for beyond intelligence is how badly you want to work for them. They want to see what passion you have because they know no matter how smart someone is, you cannot train them to like their job or like the company. Again, this is why we do research. Please refer to our FREE research guide below and what you should be researching and how to do it.Secondly, you also want to research the individuals .

You will be meeting with. Sometimes this can be tough and other times you just need to be clever. Depending on how you came across the job will open certaindoors for you. For example, if you were presented this job from a Headhunter/Executive Recruiter/Staffing Agency, they most likely will have inside information for you. Once you land the interview, this is your opportunity to ask them questions in regards to the hiring manager and anyone else you will be interviewing with. Please refer to our FREE interviewer research guide on what information to collect. If you found this position on your own, you are going to have to find information on your own. Prior to landing the in-person interview, you most likely had a phone conversation with an in-house corporate recruiter, or the hiring manager themselves, depending on the size of the company. When they call you back with good news, make sure you have pen and paper in hand. It is at this juncture that you want to ask them exactly with whom you are meeting. If it is easy, the individual will tell you the person you are meeting and their title; if this is the case, you are golden! Some companies do not like to give out this information though as they do not want to waste the hiring managers time if they feel you are not the right fit after meeting with you 1-on-1. (Again, this is for larger companies – smaller companies you will meet directly with the hiring manager). If this is your situation, you will want to probe a bit deeper. Tell the individual who called to schedule the interview that you just want to prepare as much as possible and having the names will allow for a better interviewing experience. Sometimes they still will not let you know the names, in which case, you should then ask for their titles. Once you have as much information as possible, head to the Internet for some detective work. The reason we are doing this is because we want to find ways to connect with the people we are meeting with. For example, John is going to an interview with Johnson & Johnson, he finds out that he is meeting with Pamela O’Connor (Associate Director) who is the hiring manager for the role. John finds out that Pam went to same University he did and was in similar extracurricular activities. This immediately gives John a way to break the ice and make a real connection with Pamela, thus making himself more memorable to her. Using the same example, maybe John finds they have a mutual friend who used to work at an old company. This is even better because now the mutual friend can become a personal reference for you! Get where we’re going with this?

  • LinkedIn – As discussed on our LinkedIn tab, LinkedIn is a powerful professional networking tool. To increase your researching efforts, you should have already started to expand your LinkedIn connections. This will help increase your visibility to view more people on LinkedIn. First, this is the easiest and fastest way to gain information on anyone and its free! Simply login to LinkedIn and type in the name of the individual you are interviewing with. Simple as that!
  • Google – Simple. Just type in the name of the company and the individual’s name you are meeting with. You would be surprised what you find on Google. Maybe an article or two they have written for blogs, newspapers, or magazines. It is important that anything you find, you read. That way when you interview with the person, you can bring up, “I really enjoyed the article you wrote on “_____”, and felt that (insert positive opinion here).” Again, this is all in an attempt to connect with the person you are meeting with.
  • Old Fashioned way – Tell everyone you know where you are interviewing. Post it on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, MySpace, etc… Again, you never know who knows whom. One of your connections may have a friend, family member, spouse, or significant other who works there and can refer you.

Night before The Interview

We encourage you to download our FREE checklist that you can print out for interview preparation the night before. This way when you wake up in the morning, you know exactly what to do and will have nothing to worry about. This could be one of the most important sections because if you wake unprepared, you will be rushing and not focusing on having a great interview. Use our checklist to go through everything you will need for the interview so you can go to sleep and count sheep! 🙂

Interview Dress

Here is the number 1 rule and secret when you ask, “What do I wear to an interview?” easy. You can never overdress for anything in life. “Dress for the job you want, not the job you’ve got.” No matter where you are or what you are doing, it is impossible to be overdressed. Dressing up makes you look good and feel confident. No matter the interview, be sure to wear your nicest outfit; it doesn’t have to be a suit as not everyone owns one and that is okay! But at a minimum, you should wear a shirt/tie for the men and a blouse for the women. Some will argue that you should still go out and buy a suit and the argument is certainly valid. Maybe you can borrow one from a friend or family member.Whatever the case is, the point is that you wear the nicest clothes you own.

Interview Dress

Here is the number 1 rule and secret when you ask, “What do I wear to an interview?” easy. You can never overdress for anything in life. “Dress for the job you want, not the job you’ve got.” No matter where you are or what you are doing, it is impossible to be overdressed. Dressing up makes you look good and feel confident. No matter the interview, be sure to wear your nicest outfit; it doesn’t have to be a suit as not everyone owns one and that is okay! But at a minimum, you should wear a shirt/tie for the men and a blouse for the women. Some will argue that you should still go out and buy a suit and the argument is certainly valid. Maybe you can borrow one from a friend or family member.Whatever the case is, the point is that you wear the nicest clothes you own.

When To Arrive

You should make sure you are at least 15-20 minutes early to your interview. Do not go into the building until 10 minutes prior though; spend the 5-10 minutes in the car/train/lobby/sidewalk to mentally prepare. You absolutely do not want to think about any interview answers or interview questions, this will just confuse you later on and you will start to panic. You want to prepare just like you would for any major sports game; sing your favorite song, rock out to your favorite band (if you cannot sing that is), call someone to chat, anything you want to do just so you can get in the right frame of mind. Just do not think about interview questions or answers. I would encourage you to watch the following YouTube clip to see exactly what I mean. Click here. Now that you are done… do you see what I mean? Get in the right frame of mind!!!

How To Great People

This arguably could be the most important part of the interview. When you arrive to the building, the first person you will most likely meet will be the receptionist. This will be the company’s first impression of you. Many company recruiters say that they will speak to the receptionist after the interview to see how the interviewee interacted with him/her. It is a good indicator of the individual’s personality, demeanor, and poise. Make sure when you meet and greet the receptionist, simply smile and introduce yourself, maybe even ask how he/she is doing. If you are early, which you should be, spark up a conversation, he/she may offer,good insight about the person/people you are interviewing with. Then let the receptionist know whom you are there to see and sit down. At this point, PLEASE do not pull out your phone, tablet, or anything else.Simply sit in the chair and wait.If there is any company

material lying around then absolutely go ahead and read it, but that is it! Nothing looks worse than when the individual you are meeting with comes out and you are on your phone on Facebook, not paying attention and looking unprofessional. Remember… first impressions are everything! At this point, you will be in an office or interview room, either way, you want to make sure you give the person you meet with a firm handshake, smile, stand up or sit up straight, and use proper grammar; “Hello, how are you doing today” NOT “Hey, how you doin’?” You may laugh, but we have seen this happen many times. From this point on, your non-verbal communication is critical. As you may know, 93% of our communication is non-verbal and therefore it is crucial at this point to know what every recruiter is thinking so you can be prepared. Even though what you say is only 7% you must know how to control it.

  • What you are wearing is not appropriate. Too messy/sloppy/flashy/revealing.
  • Your appearance is not “well-kept”, such as body odor, hair, facial hair, etc.
  • You have no eye contact. No matter who you speak too, everyone likes to be looked in the eyes; it reassures them that you are telling the truth. Do not look around room, it’s boring; it has four walls; you should be looking at the person!!! Now there is an exception to this. If the hiring manager brings you back to his/her office. When you walk in, you are allowed to look around for anything you can relate too; pictures, books, art, trinkets, etc. Example, “Oh, I see you are reading “Blink”, I read that book too, what a fantastic book”.
  • Your speech. You must rehearse what you are going to say so you don’t say ah/um/like.
  • You talk too fast or slow. This is a tough one to gauge, but with practice, you will learn the perfect speed.
  • You come off arrogant/overconfident/pushy/lazy/desperate/unintelligent.
  • You are rude. So many times we have seen interviewees come in and leave their jacket on or take their purse/wallet and put it on the table. Have you ever heard the expression, “stay a while”. The same applies here; take your jacket off, leave your keys in your pocket, etc… The only thing that should be on the table is an open folder with a blank piece of paper.

Job Application

There are many types of applications in today’s world; online, paper, email and in-person; the most common being online and paper. Let’s start with the most common of all, online. Online applications became a blessing for Human Resources departments in the late 90’s. It allowed HR professionals to easily organize applications for each job and filter through them much quicker. Today there is application software automating the process even further; it will filter you out of the job based on keywords. With that known, every application asks for pretty much the same information: Personal Information, Education, Job history, Awards,Licenses/Certifications, References, and an attachment of your resume. What a lot of people do for most of these areas is type “see resume”. Know what that tells the person reading it, “LAZY”. Simply put, if you can not bother to fill out

my application, then I will not spend my time reading it or your resume. Employers want people who want to work for them, so show them, fill outevery section with as muchinformation as possible. Thenthere are paper applications. These are still found with smaller employers and many retail shops. Some companies cannot afford this fancy software so they still use the paper application; which honestly is better for you! If you are filling out a paper application, chances are somebody is going to read it. It is crucial that everything you write is legible and has proper grammar. Since there is no computer to make a nice font and spell check for you, you must be 100% accurate. This means always carry a pen, pencil and white out when you go on interviews. Below are some more secrets on the application process

  • Do not apply to every job with the company – There is nothing more annoying to a recruiter than seeing your name on every single opening with the company. They get it; they know you really want to work there. Here’s the problem, since you applied to every job, how do they know what you want then? They are not going to decipher your resume to figure out which job your best for. Find the job that best suits and apply to that job only. Do your research and get in contact with the recruiter/hiring manager and tell them how much you want that job. Visit our research section on how to do so. Click here


  • Apply to everything – Wait what!? You just said do not apply to everything! Au contraire! While you should only apply to one job per company, two at most that does not limit you from applying to multiple companies. Therefore, apply to everything; that is, at different companies. Let the recruiter/hiring manager determine if you are the right fit for the job. Now, we say this, assuming you have applied to a job in your field, with the right experience and qualifications. If you meet the criteria, then apply! Sometimes it’s okay if you do not meet the qualifications 100%, but you have the experience and know-how. In a way, job applying is similar to the law of averages. The more jobs you apply to the more interviews you will get. But remember it is a fine line, you do not want to be annoying or a pest; you have to remain professional throughout this process.

Body Language

As we all may know, roughly 93% of our communication is non-verbal. This could mean that 93% of your interview is based on things you are not even saying. While of course that is not true, it is a great way to think about it. Just look at the picture above, what is it? A happy face. It is that simple to read body language. That is why it is so important to the interview.

As the job market stiffens with competition, HR professionals and hiring managers will use any reason to disqualify you. What is your defense to non-verbal communication? Being cognizant of what you do. Do you twirl pens or hair? Chew gum? Scratch yourself? Fidget? Shake your leg? You get the point. We all do something and being aware of it is the first step. From the moment you walk out of 

your car in the parking lot to the time you get back in it, you should be 100% on top of your game. This means professionalism andhigh class. When you walk intothe interview room or office and sit down, you should only pull out your folder for notes and fold your hands ,

  • The table: You should look the interviewer in the eye and give him/her your full attention. Think about it, if you use this site properly, you will be fully prepared for the interview and should have nothing to be nervous about. Body language is something many people worry about and when you worry, you will focus on it in the interview and not on your actual answers to the questions asked. Below are some tips on non-verbal communication in an interview:
  • Being late: This is your first non-verbal communication and you don’t even have to be in the interview. By showing up late, you are showing carelessness and lack of proper preparation. If you think you are going to be late, call someone; anyone! Let them know you plan on being a few minutes late. They will respect you much more than whatever excuse you were planning on saying.
    • Your handshake: In the corporate world, a handshake can tell a lot about yourself. No matter your age, gender, job applied for or the person you’re interviewing with, a bad handshake can ruin your chance of getting the job. You want to sure to extend your arm fully, grasp their hand with medium pressure and deliver straight eye contact with a smile. A Good handshake can go a long way.
    • Clock watching: Nothing makes an interviewer more upset then when the candidate stares at the clock. It’s just plain rude!  Give your full attention while in the interview!
    • Apathy: Even if you think it’s the worst job ever or if the interview is not going as planned, ALWAYS show interest. This may not be the job for you and that’s okay, but what if they have another job in mind for you? Or can connect you with someone at a different company? Do not ruin your own chances. No slouching. No fiddling with pens, pencils, resume or business card. Always look the person in the eyes; don’t wander the room.
    •  The nervous drinker: It’s okay to ask for a drink when offered at the interview, but be careful. Do not drink the whole thing because chances are you will have to go to the restroom. While it’s not rude, it will take time away from your interview. Also, do not slurp. This simply says, “I do not have manners”. Finally, do not sip your drink every minute. It’s okay for the occasional sip, but every minute is too much. It will show you are nervous and the interviewer will begin to question you.

Interview Types and questions

Now you have to prepare for the actual questions and answers. First, you will need to know what type of interview it is. There are many types of interviews and we cover them all right here. Preparing for the interview questions can seem like the most time consuming part of preparing for an interview so we created an extensive list of questions for you to prepare with. Click here to view them.

Interview Reference

These can make or break your getting the job. You would be surprised how many people put references down for people who do not remember them.

Here is the number one rule that everyone must do regarding references; tell them that you are putting them down as a reference. Yes, it is that easy. Anyone who is a reference never wants to be caught off guard and you do not want them to be caught-off guard. For example, (Company) “Hi, this is Bob from IBM calling in reference to Sylvester.” (Reference) “Who are you calling about?” Yes, it does happen and what do you think they company’s first and last impression of you will be. “Oh no, this person does not even know who I’m calling about”. No matterwhat that person says the company will be second-guessing theirdecision now. There is a 

simple fix to this; just let your references know that you will be using them on your job applications and to be expecting phone calls.What is the number two rule now? Do not list friends or family as references. Nobody cares that your mother thinks you are a hard worker or your best friend thinks you are loyal! It’s just not relevant to your professional career so keep the two separate.